She couldn’t see her hand in front of her face; she crouched low and moved carefully amongst the abandoned vehicles.

So this is what the end of the world looks like, she thought to herself. Well, it was about as horrific as she could have imagined. Bodies lay everywhere in the streets. Mercifully she couldn’t see them anymore, one of the up sides to the smoke. The smell though, and the noises, those she couldn’t block out.

She thought she was becoming numb to them though. Finally she found Finn and dropped down beside him, gun at the ready.

“Where are they?” she whispered.

He motioned toward one of the abandoned buildings across the street. Of course it was abandoned, they were all abandoned now. She remembered when this square had been full of people, the hustle and bustle of modern life and the happy sounds of shopping, talking, people having lunch together. She gave herself a fraction of a second to feel the loss then drew a deep breath and focused back on the present.

The building was barely visible through the smoke as it drifted lazily across the road. The haze was everywhere giving the whole area an otherworldly look. She heard the smattering of gun fire here and there but the battle was mostly over. Hell, the war was mostly over. Why was she even still here? Oh yeah, Finn. She wouldn’t leave him and he wouldn’t leave them.

Not that she blamed him. His younger siblings were among the nine children trapped in the crumbling building. She had been sent here with a detachment of American soldiers, a small, elite and unofficial squadron. She was the only one left. He was part of the resistance they were sent to support and arm. She knew what she was risking when she chose to stay. It’s not like the American government would help her anyway. Plausible deniability. She didn’t exist.

It was an insane rescue attempt, pure suicide and that’s what the government forces had counted on when they went after the rebels families and used those hostages to lure them here.

But really, what other choice was there? Let those nine children be slaughtered? She knew they would probably all be slaughtered anyway but she really didn’t want to live in a world where she didn’t try. With another deep breath she nodded at him and readied her weapon.


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